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Artists sue city over Midtown mural’s destruction

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(Paint Memphis)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of 12 artists filed suit against the City of Memphis after city workers painted over sections of a public mural that stretches over several city blocks in Midtown.

Some parts of the mural, which was organized and funded through the Paint Memphis organization last year, had caused controversy among neighbors because of their subject matter — some panels featured zombies or snakes, for instance.

That caused some city council members to call the murals “demonic” and, at a council member’s request, city workers began in January covering over some of the panels located on a city-owned underpass.

In the process, workers painted over the wrong panels.

Karen Golightly with Paint Memphis has estimated the damage in the tens of thousands of dollars. She says there was no approval process by the city before the murals were painted and no notice given that they would be painted over.

“We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed but have not been served,” a spokesperson for the city said. “We will not be commenting further until our attorneys have had a chance to review it.”

Five of the plaintiffs are from either Memphis or Nashville. Others are from California, Florida, Alabama and North Carolina. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

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